Silver Bullets

30 05 2012

I had an experience on the weekend that got me thinking about so called silver bullets. I went to a mate’s place on Sunday where he held a “green smoothie” workshop run by a couple of Permaculture Gympie oldies in their 70’s (I’m guessing – and maybe I shouldn’t be calling them oldies now I’ve turned 60 myself!). It was all very interesting, and I have no doubt that there are definitely health benefits from consuming such food, but I was a bit gobsmacked by the fact they eat nothing else, and to be brutally honest, they didn’t look like picture perfect examples of great health to me….

Pork, Apple Cider, Fennel, Apple casserole in the AGA. All home grown (except the apples). It was deeeelicious!

I reckon we eat well. We consume little shop bought food, and if we do, we go out of our way to make sure it’s organic and/or as local as possible. We’ve reduced our meat consumption quite a bit, and we absolutely avoid buying supermarket meat which is raised in appalling conditions and is usually full of hormones and antibiotics and fed many other unmentionables. Because we eat a wide variety of food, we tend to eat everything in moderation, and not concentrate on any “silver bullets”.  Or lead ones for that matter!  I actually tried one of their smoothies at lunch time, so I’m not against the idea.

I think we are meant to have a varied diet, which includes some meat, otherwise we would not have canine teeth. These people had a list of “don’t eat” that would make my life miserable….. no coffee, no dairy, no bread, no alcohol, I’m sure there was more…. Oh yeah, sugar.  I have to say, most people consume way too much sugar, but a wee bit now and again won’t kill you….  Give me a break, we only live once, and I’m making the most of what I can eat and drink. I’m dying with a smile on my face…! Even if it kills me.

I came across another “silver bullet” when we visited Zaytuna.  I’m loathe to “have a go” at Geoff Lawton, I respect him and his actions immensely, but he strangely really had it in for “the grid”, going as far as calling it “evil”…  Geoff’s “silver bullet” is to not connect to the grid, but instead run stand alone solar power systems which, if you don’t know what that means, entails storing solar energy in large battery banks to use at night and on cloudy days.  All of Zaytuna’s power comes this way, even though the grid runs right past the door.

Now obviously, if you’re miles from anywhere and it’s going to cost an arm and a leg to connect to the grid, that’s precisely what you do.  Our hybrid system does both in case of grid failure, and we appreciate having the battery backup, but the grid is not evil.

There’s an old saying which I’m sure Bill Mollison first came up with:  “The problem is the solution”.  Yes, the grid as we know it generates gazillions of tons of greenhouse gases (I will NOT enter into discussions over whether Climate Change is caused by humans or not), but only because of what we connect to it.  If we continue hooking up dirty coal fired power stations and nukes that cause serious problems whenever anything goes wrong to it, then yes we are  shitting in our own collective nests.  Connecting arrays of old fridges, air conditioners, and gigantic plasma screens to the grid is obviously stupid.  Many people do this unfortunately…..  Evil?  I’ll let you decide.  What I think is needed is loads of education.  Switching to toxic batteries so that we can continue on our merry consumptive ways is not on.  In any case, there are not enough resources on the planet for all of us to do this, we have to learn new tricks.

At least, to their credit, Zaytuna runs on the smell of an oily rag.  Most houses in Australia could not cope with running on “just” 13 kWh/day.  That Geoff and his merry band of followers can run a whole farm with around fifty people on those numbers is impressive.  The average around here is 30, for just one house!  Remember, we use just 2.5 (confirmed yet again in the bill that arrived today, nearly $260 in credit…)

When I told Geoff we generated so much surplus solar power our neighbours unwittingly used it to run their houses in daylight hours, he looked somewhat surprised.  I don’t think any of this had crossed his mind.  The grid need not be evil, it simply needs to be used intelligently.

What must now occur is for the populace to be educated in understanding that they can do way more with way less, that it won’t kill them, and that as a matter of fact…. they have little choice.  There are no silver bullets.